Will the government finally take heed and move towards a sustainable economy?

The writing has been on the wall for long enough. Malta’s economic development has been ignoring fundamental realities, whose effects are now being amplified and aggravated by the global pandemic and its repercussions on the economy and on society.

Partit Demokratiku appealed to government, back in 2018, to address issues concerning Malta’s acute over-reliance on food importation, by incentivising local agricultural and food production through various measures. Never has national food security been such an urgent matter as now.

Over a year ago, PD appealed to government to implement measures to help transform our economy to a more circular one, where better use is made of resources and commodities, limiting our near-complete reliance on importation and promoting sustainability all round. Instead we are being sold the ‘need’ for a mega-incinerator.

Whilst the going was good and the economy was in over-drive, the unbridled optimism and over-confidence of government created a false sense of security.

This global crisis is now wiping away that veneer of invincibility fast and exposing the shaky foundations, undermining self-reliance and resilience. This crisis shows that as a country we must be open to cooperation with our partners in the EU to move towards a sustainable, circular economy based on solidarity.

Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party highlighted the fact that the COVID-19 crisis shows the vital importance of well-funded and coordinated, free and universally accessible public health systems. This should never be forgotten in setting priorities at EU and national level that affect the funding and working conditions in these priority public goods.

Our leaders, in Malta and in the EU, should rethink our socio-economic model in order to make it more resilient to systemic threats – be they environmental, medical, economic, societal in origin. We need to rebuild our systems in a way that they take into account planetary boundaries as well as providing the well-financed essential public services and other means to ensure a fair and stable society.

Once this crisis is overcome, there can be no going back to business as usual, nor can it be used as an alibi for harsh austerity policies as was the case after the global financial crisis. Climate change will remain an urgent and existential challenge. The pandemic profoundly questions the way our societies are organised, the way we live on this planet and a host of conventional policies. The COVID-19 crisis reinforces the absolute need for transformative initiatives such as a bold European Green Deal and a massive reinvestment in quality public services, above all in the health sector. Only then will this crisis lead to more just, more sustainable and more democratic societies.